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Posted at 12:02 AM ET, 01/27/2011

Capitals shutout for seventh time this season, fall 1-0 to Thrashers

By Katie Carrera

The Capitals did everything they've emphasized in trying to spark their offense out of its midseason hibernation -- they crashed the net, got second chance shots, cycled, created movement in the offensive zone -- and yet they still couldn't find a way to put the puck in the net behind Thrashers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec in a 1-0 loss in Atlanta on Wednesday night.

It's the second time this year that Pavelec has shut out the Capitals and he's won each of his past three starts against them, stopping 110 of 111 shots in that span. Pavelec dismissed the idea that it's becoming easy for him to face Washington, though.

"If you look at their lineup, they have great players. I think it's just luck," said Pavelec, who made 36 saves Wednesday. "It's not about me. It's about the team. Every time Ovi and those guys step on the ice, we know where they are."

Where the Capitals were most of the contest though was in the Atlanta zone. There were quality scoring chances for Washington throughout the game and very few for the Thrashers. But one mistake by Jeff Schultz -- he didn't clear a bouncing puck out of the zone, which led to Nik Antropov's goal -- was all struggling Atlanta required to bust a three-game losing streak.

Despite the disappointment of falling to another Southeast Division foe heading into the four-day all-star break, Coach Bruce Boudreau stressed the lack of production against the Thrashers wasn't for lack of want or will from his team.

"When you can't score, you can't score," Boudreau said. "The one thing I can say tonight, it wasn't for a lack of effort, puck control or shots on goal or anything. Even our power play I thought was really good. [We] just can't score goals right now. It's very frustrating for the coaches. I'm sure it is for every player in there when you're trying so hard and you can't score goals.

"We've got a lot of guys playing right now that aren't used to scoring a lot of goals, the guys that are getting the great chances are guys that maybe should be scoring the goals, but they're not," Boudreau continued. "I don't have answers. I can't go out and score, they're trying their ass off but it's not going in. And their goalie played great, I'm tired of saying it, but it's a lot of what happened."

--It's hard to look at a power play that went 0 for 3 as a positive thing in a 1-0 game but for the Capitals, who are 9 for 88 with the man advantage in the last 27 games, having full two-minute stretches where they maintained possession and created quality scoring chances is at least a step in the right direction to getting the unit back on track.

They took seven shots on the power play and no moment seemed more likely for Washington to come back in Atlanta than their second man advantage of the game with Freddy Modin in the box for tripping. Somehow, though, Pavelec managed to stop the flurry of chances in and around the crease as he scrambled along the goal line.

--In his first start since Jan. 14 against Vancouver and first appearance since making 20 saves in a relief outing against the Flyers on Jan. 18, Semyon Varlamov made 23 saves but not many were extremely challenging stops for the young goaltender to make.

By Katie Carrera  | January 27, 2011; 12:02 AM ET
Categories:  Atlanta Thrashers, Bruce Boudreau  
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Next: All-Star break may come at a good time for Capitals

Comments

Ovechkin-Backstrom-Nash.

Posted by: RetireScottStevensNumber | January 27, 2011 12:11 AM | Report abuse

@RetireScottStevensNumber

Somehow, I don't think Nash is available.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | January 27, 2011 12:15 AM | Report abuse

@cstanton1

You are right, Laich did try hard tonight. But this isn't kindergarten, you don't get gold stars for participation.

I'm not saying don't play Laich because he is a very good defensive forward. But he should not be used on the PP ever again. He is horrible at it. Last year was an aberration because the offense was clicking the entire year.

Also, no more Laich on the top two lines. Laich is a 3rd line player, nothing more. Now I believe he can be a top notch 3rd line wing, but he can't do more than that. For this coming offseason I hope the Caps pay him accordingly and not as a 2nd line winger. If Laich gets more than $2.5M/yr I will vomit in my mouth.

I know he got "player of the game" but that had to give it to somebody and you know how much the media loves Laich and his quotes.

Also, the Caps do need more skill. Now I think that will come once Fehr and Semin get healthy. Then all they will need to add is a good 2nd line center(yes another top notch winger would be nice also, but you have to be realistic in what you are asking for.)

I will say it again though, I am very curious to see how this team plays once Semin and Fehr come back. I think it will be interesting. If the offense doesn't pick up then, then the Caps are in a lot of trouble.

Posted by: sgm3 | January 27, 2011 12:21 AM | Report abuse

Ah... Dave "Cementhead" Semenko. He played his role. He opened up space for Gretzky. Everyone on the team should have a role to play and know exactly what it is. We need a proven, gritty 2C to set an example with his spirited play and will to win. A leader by example. IMO, GMGM should be directing his resources in that direction. Just sayin...

Posted by: sca187 | January 27, 2011 12:53 AM | Report abuse

Fisher, Arnott, Umberger, Stoll, Horcoff?

Go after one of these guys! Edmonton has a ton of young centers, maybe Horcoff can be had.

Posted by: digster1013 | January 27, 2011 1:19 AM | Report abuse

Stoll. Go after Stoll.


"I don't have answers" - Bruce Boudreau

If the coach doesn't have any answers, who does?

Posted by: chrisclarksucks | January 27, 2011 1:33 AM | Report abuse

"When you can't score, you can't score" is like saying if you can't breathe, you're dead. Which is where the capitals are at the moment. Or comatose. Clearly, somethihg is amiss with this team. It's probably just a teamwide, monthslong slump that will suddenly get better come playoff time (that's when they go to Maui and watch the rest of the hockey world play playoff hockey).

Posted by: Almazar80 | January 27, 2011 6:15 AM | Report abuse

I hope that Hadid cleans up better than the Caps do. Otherwise, like the Caps, it may not be money well spent (so far).

Posted by: Almazar80 | January 27, 2011 6:17 AM | Report abuse

Someone get the four fatties on a diet: Ovechkin, Backstrom and Boudreau and Ted need to lose some weight. Next, hire a knowledgeable hockey coach for the power play. Limit fat Ovechkin to 60 seconds on the PP. Ssnd Perreault and Beagle back to Hershey where they belong. Trade Semin for a 2C or a bag of pucks. Finally finish the season in 6-7th place because if the Craps play Pittsburgh, it's one and done. AGAIN!

Posted by: Drudge1 | January 27, 2011 7:32 AM | Report abuse

You can tell how frustrated everyone is by the lack of posts on here since midnight - there is nothing we can say that hasn't already been said over the last 30 games.

Bradley was back - thats a good sign - we need some sparks from Chimera who does look good on top line - use that speed. The Caps have had 88 powerplays over the last 27 games - there have been games with hardly any...use your speed guys to create mismatches to get calls.

Cycle the puck more - one bright spot of last night was working the puck down low...less reliance on the point shots to produce all the offense.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | January 27, 2011 7:36 AM | Report abuse

I hope Optional gets picked last in this "all-star" draft...maybe then his ego will burst and he will start to come back to life...

I am pretty disappointed with this team. If the coach has come down to "I don't have the answers", then it is time for him to move on. Give him a front office job.

I think, Bruce lost his stars when he blatantly called them out earlier in the year. He centered on Optional, but the others are obviously affected by it.

Green looks totally disinterested. It's almost like he isn't trying some shifts.

Backstrom looks terrible. I can't understand why coaches/personel that watch "hours" of tape can't see this?

Ovech..I mean Optional is predictable and has no drive. A shift here and there. Is it widely known that he is in a bar every night late. Someone needs to discipline him.

Semin is not our answer, if you remember, he looked like garbage for 20 games prior to his injury. Great the first 15 games, then lost it.

These things are all obvious...why do we see it and the coaches don't?

I'm so angry, I may not even watch the all-star game...

Posted by: SoaringCaps | January 27, 2011 7:45 AM | Report abuse

Here's my optimistic take on the Caps' poor scoring: maybe they've spent all their practices so far working on defense and PK.

Maybe they learned their lesson last postseason: an 8th seed playing defense first can beat a top seed playing offense only. So this year, they're going to lay their foundation with defense.

Maybe after the break they'll spend half their practices working on finishing and PP. We know they can do well at either offense or defense. Their challenge for the second half is to figure out how to do well at both at the same time.

Posted by: garbageout | January 27, 2011 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Glad my cable was out so I didn't have to watch that..

TB beat Atlanta 7-1 the other night and we cant score one goal.

NOW is the time for changes, as while the team has a ton of talent, it has grown stale and predictable. Sometimes need to shake things up just for the sake of shaking things up.

Posted by: MattBradley10 | January 27, 2011 8:01 AM | Report abuse

@sgm

Totally agree on Laich... the guy is neither a 2nd line winger or a top PP unit guy (at least not on a team with championship aspirations).

He was AWFUL on the PP last night... I think it was on the first man advantage of the game where he just blindly dumped the puck into the corner where the only player who had a shot at it was a Thrasher.

Laich clearly belongs in the "overrated" category as far as I'm concerned. He has a reputation as a gritty player, but he doesn't fight or throw a lot of hits, so I really don't see where he's contributing much in the physical part of the game. He can block shots, I'll give him that much, but so could Quintin Laing for that matter.

Posted by: chombie13 | January 27, 2011 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Here's optimism...

OPTIONAL get to ALL practices from here on out...and I guarantee the Power Play starts to click.


Posted by: SoaringCaps | January 27, 2011 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Chombie...

Laich would be a great 3rd liner...a rich man's Kelly Buchberger...

If we are counting on him for offense, we will not be happy.

He too looks like he has lost a step...

Posted by: SoaringCaps | January 27, 2011 8:11 AM | Report abuse

Green was frustrating to watch in that game. Seemed like whenever he had the puck in the offensive zone he just held it until a defender was right on him, then made soft risky passes. Even if there was good puck movement, when it got to Green everything stopped and he waited for the defence to get back in position. Or if he was carrying the puck in with a bit of speed he'd slow down and drift over towards the boards and make a soft pass to the middle.

Posted by: Stu_c | January 27, 2011 8:34 AM | Report abuse

Once again, the defense played very well, but the offense did not. BB has got to get the PP working again - this is a huge reason the Caps continue to slowly slide. Also, I think they're making too many passes. If you have a shot, take it. Still a lot of hockey left to play. Hopefully the hiatus with the All-Star game will give them time to rest and regroup.

Posted by: SirPelleas | January 27, 2011 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Katie said it best earlier this week: BB has to get the powerplay going and the players need to stop passing the puck so much. If you have an open lane, shoot it. Create traffic in front of the net so you're positioned for rebounds.

I honestly think the defense looks good. It's the offense that has suffered.

Posted by: SirPelleas | January 27, 2011 10:53 AM | Report abuse

first time post....Can someone please tell me how it makes any difference that the Caps are in top 10 in GAA, when they can't score? This is basically the same team for the last 2-3 seasons and this is the worst they've played...I think I would much rather have the open style offense and win games 6-3 or 7-5, than keep losing close games 2-1, 1-0....It seems that this process has taken too long under BB. Other teams...Philly, Pitt, Tampa Bay, have gotten extremely better. Anybody got any answers to this process the Caps are going through?

Posted by: billdoug71 | January 27, 2011 3:29 PM | Report abuse

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